Our successful actions, public educational forums, community organizing and such took place in the VT Yankee Evacuation Zone, between the founding of the Safe & Green Campaign in 2006 through the 2013 announcement by Entergy that it would shut down Vermont Yankee in 2014. Since that time, Safe & Green Campaign members participate in VT’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel meetings on decommissioning Vermont Yankee. We also continue to hold an annual vigil to honor the nuclear evacuees in Fukushima.
May: Environmental Justice and Nuclear Waste: The Road from Vermont Yankee to Texas New England Tour co-sponsored with CAN & VYDA. Rose Gardner, Sierra Club member and a resident of a community impacted by both a Texas low-level waste dump and a proposed Centralized Interim Storage site for HLNW in Andrews County, Texas; Kevin Kamps with Beyond Nuclear, speaking on the vulnerabilities of on-site storage of HLNW and federal policy; and Deb Katz with Citizens Awareness Network, addressing the issues of NorthStar, decommissioning, and hardened onsite storage at nuclear reactors.
After 7 years in the making, local area filmmaker Robbie Leppzer held two “Sneak Preview” benefit fundraiser screenings of his new 104-minute feature-length documentary film, Power Struggle, which chronicles the grassroots political battle to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Power Struggle is directed and produced by long-time Pioneer Valley independent documentary filmmaker Robbie Leppzer and his Wendell, MA based production company Turning Tide Productions, in association with HBO and NHK, the largest television network in Japan.
Winter: monthly “Safe and Green Salons” were intentional evenings to think big and discuss issues of the day. We invited unaffiliated individuals and members of sister groups who work in law and science. We learned a lot, had some lively debates, and enjoyed pot luck suppers together.
In January, Safe and Green Campaign drafted a letter signed by 80 citizens asking VT’s Governor not to sign off on FEMA’s current Radiological Emergency Response Plan, due at the end of the month. The Governor’s office would not sign; an improved plan was signed in March, and the legislature approved a substantial funding increase for evacuation shelters in April.
January 22: “Eyewitness from Fukushima” Chiho Kaneko gave a slide show presentation of photographs and spoke about her October trip to Fukushima, Japan. (Video of her presentation is here). Her moving presentation inspired the Safe and Green Campaign’s “Voices of Fukushima” project to commemorate the third anniversary of the tsunami, earthquake and reactor disasters. We recruited SAGE Alliance affinity groups, and each created an action tailored to their own town. The Old Reliables had a table at the Amherst Farmers Market with a slide show, handouts and discussion. Leverett, Mass., hosted a film and discussion about Fukushima’s reactors and other in the US like it. Five towns “adopted” Fukushima evacuation towns for the day: Brattleboro (adopted the town of Namie), Putney (Iitate), Greenfield, Mass. (Kawauchi); Wendall, Mass. (Hirono) and Hanover, NH (Nihonmatsu). Vigils were held at the Vermont Yankee reactor and at the Statehouse in Montpelier. (March 9-11). More info is here.
In February, Safe and Green Campaign member Nancy Braus joined other non-profits in a meeting with VT Agency of Natural Resources staff and other to pressure the agency to move forward on permits addressing thermal pollution from Vermont Yankee into the Connecticut River.
SAGE Alliance held Leaks, Lies and Lawyers Parade followed by a Rally (March 30). The Safe and Green Campaign provided the bulk of the planning and logistical support. Bread and Puppet Theatre came with 30 costumes and banners, and every one was filled by an enthusiastic volunteer. Members of the Extraordinary Rendition Brass Band from Providence, RI and the Expandable Brass Band from Florence, Mass. led the parade. The parade of 500 citizens was a colorful sea of banners, floats and costumes down Brattleboro’s Main Street. The forum in the historic Latchis Theater included speeches from Windham County Senator Jeanette White, Deb Katz of Citizens Awareness Network, Chris Williams of Vermont Citizens Action Network, a song by the Vocal Chordz, and a skit by Safe and Green members. Speeches and photos are here.
Safe and Green Campaign testified May 7 before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Petition Review Board as one of 23 petitioners in a 2.206 petition to shut down Mark 1 and Mark 2 (Fukushima-style) reactors. Testimony was taken via conference call organized by Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear.
June: Safe and Green Campaign worked with Chiho Kaneko to host a speaking tour with Chikako Nishiyama, a courageous anti-nuclear activist and former city councilor from the town of Kawauchi, Japan, which served as a shelter town and then was evacuated during the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors. Kawauchi was adopted by Greenfield,Mass. for our “Voices of Fukushima” project in March. Chikako was so moved by Greenfield’s to Kawauchi that she initiated this speaking tour. In Greenfield, she was presented with scrolls of translated messages to the people of Kawauchi from the people of Greenfield. VYDA set up a meeting with seven state legislators, the head of the Red Cross, VT State Nuclear Advisory Panel including officials from the Dept. of Public Service, Dept. of Health, and the state nuclear engineer. For 90 minutes following her presentation, the group asked questions and discussed challenges. Chikako also made presentations near Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor, in five other towns in Vermont and Massachusetts, in New York City and near Indian Point, at the Peace Pagodas in Grafton, NY and in Leverett, Mass. She returned to Vermont in October, before finally heading home to Japan, to interview Safe & Green members about Vermont Yankee’s closure announcement, and what we see as the activists role in Entergy’s decision to shut down the reactor.
Over the summer, Safe & Green had information booths and made connections with other activists working on extreme energy challenges while at Clearwater Festival near Indian Point and at the Solarfest in central Vermont. We hosted two German anti-nuclear activists for three days, while they biked from NYC to Bread & Puppet in northern Vermont, and had fascinating discussions about the differences between our local movement and theirs. We marched with CAN in Brattleboro’s July 4th parade. Working with the SAGE Alliance, we helped organize a banner drop for Memorial Day weekend and the second annual flotilla on the Connecticut River.
With contributions from Lionel Delevigne, Cate Woolner and David Shaw, Safe and Green organized our first photo exhibit: “Taking Power: Photographs from the People’s Movement to Shut Down VT Yankee.” Our opening reception turned into a huge celebration — just ten days beforehand:
August 27, 2013: Entergy announced that they were shutting down Vermont Yankee at the end of 2014!
For those of us who have been working to shut down the reactor for decades, August 27 is a memorable day. After jubilant phone calls, a few of us wrote up Safe and Green’s post- closure response, then dashed over to Entergy headquarters – not to protest, but to take advantage of the media who would be leaving Entergy’s press conference. Read press coverage here on our Closure News page, with links to media as well as OpEds by Safe and Green members. (As always, we encourage you to write letters to the editor and we’ll post them on our website.)
What may be our most important work is truly cut out for us now, as Entergy announced that it could mothball the reactor for up to 60 years, before full decommissioning will begin. Along with the state, town, region and all national and regional anti-nuclear groups, Safe and Green Campaign agrees that this is unacceptable and we will advocate for decommissioning as soon as it is safe to do so after the reactor’s closure.
We encourage readers to contribute to our Decommissioning Resources page here.
Safe and Green convened area anti-nuclear activists on September 23rd for a strategic planning process to set priorities for the work ahead. On Sept. 30, we testified for a second time before the NRC’s petition review board on a 2.206 request to shut down all 23 Fukushima-style reactors. A few of us attended the seminar, On Going Lessons from Fukushima in Boston October 9 with former Prime Minister of Japan, former NRC Commissioner Jaczko, Arnie Gundersen, Peter Bradford, and others. Our own Chiho Kaneko of Hartland, VT translated for Prime Minister Kan. We urged the VT State Nuclear Advisory Panel to recommend prompt decommissioning and removal of spent fuel from the fuel pool, at their quarterly meeting on October 16.
In an entire year of meetings, presentations and citizen comment, Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel (VSNAP) on evacuation planning, thermal pollution, and Entergy finances, by VSNAP made only one recommendation in 2012: to add another member to its panel. VSNAP responded to Safe and Green’s pleas at its October 2013 meeting to do something and advise the state on decommissioning. Two weeks later, VSNAP formally recommended to the Governor and Public Service Dept. that Vermont Yankee be required to decommission safely and promptly.
Four Safe and Green members spoke at the NRC’s public hearing on Waste Confidence in Chelmsford, MA on October 28. Forced by a federal court to re-draft its rules for the environmental impacts of high level nuclear waste, the NRC is adopting a cookie-cutter approach treating all reactors as if they are the same model, age, and location, and the rules allow spent fuel to remain in fuel pools indefinitely. We had plenty to criticism in the 545 page draft plan. One of our speakers called the approach “faith based science” (faith in radiation being harmless and no risk of accidents). Another said “this is your mother speaking. You have to clean up your mess when you are done playing with your toys. Shame on you.”
On November 2nd, Safe and Green and CAN co-hosted a standing-room-only “People Power Party” to show celebrate and share our gratitude that Vermont Yankee will be closing. John Sheldon and Friends, Dan Dewalt and Derrick Jordan played dance music; Open Mics between sets gave folks venues for speeches, skits and rants. Photos of 40 years of anti-nuclear actions were projected onto three screens. Klondike Sound donated equipment. Hope and Olive, Green Fields Market, the People’s Pint and Hungry Ghost Bread all donated food, and discounts were given by Amy’s Bakery Arts (a huge Bye Bye VY!! cake), Entera Catering, Winham Wines, All Souls Church and others. It was a fabulous gathering – and a great warm up for next year’s party to celebrate when Vermont Yankee turns off the power and stops producing nuclear waste.
Safe and Green hosted “Cleaning Up Vermont Yankee: Three Perspectives” on December 3 at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. A packed room of activists got updated on decommissioning by Tom Buchanan, Deb Katz and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff.
Late on the afternoon of December 23rd, the State and Entergy held a press conference to announce they had reached some agreement on closure and decommissioning — if the Public Service Board grants a Certificate of Public Good to operate for another year. Our reading of the agreement: Entergy once again is throwing a little money at the state, and it cannot be trusted to keep its word.
Public Service Board public hearings on Entergy’s application for a Certificate of Public Good. Safe and Green Campaign held a “PSB & VY Forum & Dinner” on November 5th, which 60 citizens attended, to educate people on the issues before the Board and to generate ideas for public comments.
Columbus Day Weekend, October 5 & 8 Banner Drop!
September 15: “Our River Runs Through It” Flotilla and Rally on the Connecticut River to tell Entergy to stop all thermal pollution of the river with Vermont Yankee’s discharge. Read more about thermal pollution here.
August 11 “Knocking on the Devil’s Door”Author Cecile Pineda spoke on her book about Fukushima and led a discussion on anti-nuclear activism in Brattleboro.
July 1 Independence from Entergy civil disobedience at Vermont Yankee reactor, including 250 marchers, 50 bicyclists, an 18 foot Trojan Cow, solar panels, and over 40 arrested.
June 16-18 Clearwater Festival Clearwater was founded 25 years ago by Pete Seegar. This year, the festival chose nuclear energy as its activism theme, as the festival was held six miles downstream from Indian Point. Safe and Green organized a Vermont Yankee booth, alongside six other anti-nuclear groups from New York and New Jersey. 18,000 people attended the festival. See pictures and read more here: clearwater-festival
June 16 created a “Burma Shave” type banner action to promote the “Independence from Entergy” July 1st action and to educate drivers about Vermont Yankee. 40 activists from Safe & Green and local affinity groups (Vocal Chordz, Marlboro Magpies, Affinity Group B, and the Old Reliables) stood at prominent spots leading into and in downtown Brattleboro with series of signs such as “Meltdowns Happen: Where Would You Go?”
June 1 “Lies of Entergy” Sing-Along During the April 14th “Rally to Support Vermont,” Governor Shumlin roused the crowd with a rant on ten promises Entergy made and broke. We put those words into song (to the “12 Days of Christmas” tune), and a dozen of us dressed as Entergy lawyers for some “spontaneous” street theatre singing during Brattleboro’s popular first Friday Gallery Walk.
May 24 Solar Rollers Since their first ride to Seabrook in 1978, activists on bicycles have been spreading the good news – Turn on the Sun! Turn off the Nukes! This year, they biked for three weeks, covering every county in Vermont. Safe and Green co-sponsored, gave them a page on our website, and coordinated communications.
May 23 Safe & Green organized multi-level actions for an NRC open house and public meeting. Two mock “NRC panels” greeted attendees as they arrived: “commissioners” in suits labeled like NASCAR sponsors, and the “People’s NRC” labeled public health, future generation, the environment. We handed out prepared questions to attendees to ask the NRC during the open house. The hearing was standing room only with many groups staging protests.
MAY 1 “Put People First!” March and Rally Safe and Green marched alongside hundreds of Vermonters, organized by Vermont Workers Center.
April 14 Defend Democracy: Rally to Support Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders, VT Governor Peter Shumlin and others spoke to 1,400 supporters at a rally to support the democratic will of the people and elected officials of Vermont to shut down Vermont Yankee rather than permit Entergy to operate the reactor beyond its 40-year license.
“MARCH OF ACTION MONTH”: The Safe and Green Campaign, working together with the SAGE Alliance, built up public momentum towards March 22, 2012 — the expiration date of Vermont Yankee’s state Certificate of Public Good to operate. In early March, the federal district court ruled that the State could not shut down Vermont Yankee on March 22 nor could it close the plant over waste storage issues until after appeals are heard by the 2nd US Circuit Court in NY. State regulators, Entergy’s stable of attorneys, citizen advocates and the federal court fought it out in the courts and political arenas while we took it to the streets.
Visit our YouTube page for video of March of Action month events.
Sat., March 3: PowerShift Walk from Court Square in Greenfield (MA) to Vermont Yankee in Vernon. 50 citizens, Greenfield Community College students and the Fungi Affinity Group walked over 25 miles, garnering a lot of press.
Sat. March 3: Party! Kick Off “March Of Action” Month & PowerShift AfterParty. Music by Groove Shoes, Lux Deluxe, The Diamonstones. Supporters created a fabulous pot luck supper to feed the PowerShift Walkers and spread the word about our Month of Action — we had the energy to dance!
Sun. March 11: The “1st Anniversary of Fukushima” was commemorated with a mock evacuation from VT Yankee. 250 people marched with all their “evacuation gear.”
Sun. March 11: “Fukushima & VY Forum” with Arnie Gundersen and Chiho Kaneka at The River Garden in Brattleboro.
Wed. March 21: At the State House in Montpelier, on the last day of VT Yankee’s license to operate, legislators, and advocates including a member of the Safe and Green Campaign spoke at a press conference, and a “VY Retirement Party” and Vigil marked the occasion later that day.
Thurs. March 22: 2,000 people marched three miles from the Brattleboro Common to “Occupy Entergy HQ” where 143 citizens were arrested in waves of non-violent civil disobedience. Simultaneous actions took place at Entergy HQ in New Orleans and Entergy’s regional HQ in White Plains, NY.
Sat. March 24: “National Day of Solidarity with Vermont” Actions by our sister reactor communities around the United States to support Vermont’s democratic right to have a say in our energy future.
Also in March: Safe & Green initiated and continues to web-host the VY Pledge: “I pledge to take action to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor in Vernon, Vermont.” Co-sponsored by SAGE Alliance. www.safeandgreencampaign.org/action-center/vy-pledge
A local holistic health practitioner offered to host a workshop, “Radiating Wellness,” with registration fees benefiting Safe & Green. She explored herbal and nutritional remedies for daily wellness, practices for boosting immunity and vitality, and holistic support for acute radiation exposure. Brattleboro Wholistic Health Center, February 11.
C2C Vigils One hour vigils continued at the gates of Vermont Yankee every day until the license expires March 21, 2012.
January 21 Fans of political folk music and those seeking solace and community after the Murtha decision found both. Folk singer song-writers Charlie King, and Karen Brandow, alomg with the Seattle duo Rebel Voices, held a Duopalooza benefit in Greenfield, Ma. The St. James venue was overflowing, with folks squeezing into every nook and cranny and standing along the back. We sang along, we laughed, we were moved, and we left with renewed spirits. Plus, Duopalooza raised more than twice what the organizers, our Franklin County affinity groups, had hoped for! Enjoy Duopalooza’s Solar Gloria” and “Shut Them Down!” on YouTube. http://youtu.be/9JMNPitAPqA http://youtu.be/pYUmemZSdq8
Christmas Eve: Closure Caroling at VT Yankee A special Countdown to Closure vigil on Christmas eve, with Traditional Carols Adapted to Changing Times. We wish you a Merry Christmas & a Nuke Free New Year!
Nuke Free New Year’s Eve Party Party with the Keene NH Affinity Group December 31st. Declare your clean energy future New Year’s resolutions, enjoy a little live music, make a New Year’s Nuke-free toast with sparkling grape juice, and watch the “ball drop” on “3-2-1! DROP THE NUKE! Happy New Years!!”
Closing Vermont Yankee: How You Can Help Pot Luck Supper Briefings. 60 people from Franklin County had a lively discussion in Greenfield, MA on December 6, and another 25 brain stormed in Brattleboro on December 8.
Training for Trainers Four Safe and Green members participated in a three day, intensive training on the skills and tools necessary to train others for nonviolent direct action, in this case specifically actions intended to be held at Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor this spring. The training was organized by SAGE Alliance with support from Safe & Green. December 2-4.
Keene NH Affinity Group held its first information session with Safe & Green presenters. A follow up meeting was held a month later, with plans laid for a New Year’s Eve party at the nuke. November 15 & December 15.
Die In Vermont Yankee tested the emergency sirens in the towns in the evacuation zone for three minutes. Safe and Green organized a die-in in downtown Brattleboro and encouraged people in other towns to do the same. December 8.
Japanese Documentary Tour An award-winning documentary film maker from Japan held two nights of events in both Brattleboro and Greenfield, sponsored by Safe & Green and co-sponsored by other local groups. The first night included a discussion and slide show focusing on Fukushima; the second night was a showing of her film, Ashes to Honey, about a long-term Japanese protest against building a nuclear facility on an island off the coast of Japan. November.
C2C Vigils One hour vigils began at the gates of Vermont Yankee, and are being held every day until the license expires March 21, 2012. Photos and video are posted on the web. The first vigil, by a couple in honor of their wedding anniversary, was held the day after the refueling rally. LINK to photos, info
RePowering the People Rally The SAGE Alliance organized its first event: a rally at the gates of Vermont Yankee. Despite the fact that there was snowstorm the previous day had knocked out power and downed trees, almost 300 people attended. Entergy Nuclear had refueled the reactor despite the fact that it would lack a state permit and so should close March 21. After rousing speeches and songs, everyone was invited to write and read a message, and hang it on a “Close Line.”
Benefit Contra Dance and “Practical and Not So” Solar Workshop Guiding Star Grange, Greenfield, MA. Perpetual e-Motion, one of the hottest bands on the contra circuit today, played a benefit dance for Safe and Green Campaign, plus gave a workshop on their solar-powered Volvo provides the energy for their techno sound system. October 16
A Renewable Road Map with Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, met with seven of Windham County’s legislators at a reception at a local inn, followed by a free talk to a standing room only crowd downtown. He addressed Germany’s decision to shut down the remaining nine of its once 17 operating nuclear reactors by 2022, and how the country plans to transition toward 80% to 100% renewable energy by 2050. The tour of Vermont was initiated by Beyond Nuclear with support from the Heinrich Boll Foundation. Safe and Green sponsored the Brattleboro reception and presentation. October 10.
SAGE Alliance Congress About 60 individuals and members of anti-nuclear groups from around New England, and Beyond, held an all-day session with the goal of working together on a nonviolent direct action campaign if Vermont Yankee does not close on March 21, 2012. The SAGE Alliance was created out of this congress. Safe & Green members were on the planning committee for the Congress, and are on the coordinating committee and other committees of the SAGE Alliance. September 18
Positively Charged Music Festival Seven bands donated their talents, seven people spoke about nuclear power, and hundreds of volunteer hours created a fantastic all-day festival and consciousness raising event. 400 folks of all ages attended. Safe & Green co-sponsored with activist Dan DeWalt. Amazing Planet Farm, Newfane, VT. September 17
Courthouse Vigil A quiet, dignified, single-line vigil in support of Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin, Attorney General William Sorrell, and the Public Service Board, named as defendants in a federal lawsuit brought by the Entergy Corporation, owner/operator of Vermont Yankee. September 12.
Rally to Support Vermont Deb Katz of Citizens Awareness Network, Attorney Jimmy Leas, James Moore of VPIRG, and Rep. Mike Mrowicki of Putney spoke on the approaching Entergy v. Vermont preemption case and visualized an energy plan without nuclear power. Safe & Green Campaign and CAN organized the rally, and Toxics Action, VPIRG, Sierra Club co-sponsored. Wells Fountain, Brattleboro on September 10.
Gathering of the Clams. We helped organize and participated in strategic planning around massive nonviolent direct actions against the Vermont Yankee reactor with alumni of the Clamshell Alliance at a reunion weekend in Conway, NH on July 20-22.
Two Legal Eagles Look at Pre-Emption. Vermont Law School professors Patrick Parenteau and Don Kreis spoke on the legal issues related to Vermont Yankee’s preemption, and the New England Coalition described their legal actions before the Public Service Board and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We wrapped up the discussion with action steps the public can take. Safe and Green organized this teach-in style panel; co-sponsors included the New England Coalition, Nuclear Free Vermont, and Citizens Action Network (CAN). July 19
July 4th Parade Safe and Green poked fun at Entergy’s lawsuit against the State of Vermont with marching lawyers leading our ‘72 Pontiac LeMans (“Same age as VY!”). A good time was had by all (except for Dr. Death, who got a ticket).
Into Eternity is a new compelling Danish film about the construction of the world’s first permanent repository for high level radioactive waste, in Finland. Once sealed, the facility is never to be opened and needs to last for 100,000 years. Safe & Green co-sponsored showings in Brattleboro and Greenfield. May 12 & 19
Gallery Walk Outreach During the spring and summer, Safe & Green handed out flyers and buttons and engaged people in conversation about Vermont Yankee during Gallery Walk, a popular event held the first Friday of each month in Brattleboro. The flyers addressed a different topic each month. For example, the impact of Fukushima on Japanese agriculture stimulated a lot of questions about the effects of radiation.
Life After Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Forum in Keene, NH. Co-sponsored with CAN, NEC, Nuclear Free Vermont. May
Pilgrim Rally at Plymouth, Mass. Safety concerns at Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Sponsored by Pilgrim Watch, environmental groups, and co-sponsored by Safe & Green. Randy Kehler of Safe & Green spoke. May
Walk for a Nuclear Free Future, with Japanese Buddhists walking from Indian Point in NY to Vermont Yankee. A hundred local marchers joined in the last seven mile walk from Brattleboro to the gates of Vermont Yankee. A pot luck supper followed, with moving words from the Japanese walkers and messages of support from our members. Easter Sunday, April 24. Link to Slide Show
Hearing by Massachusetts Joint Legislative Committees at the Boston State House, to assess what safety measures might be needed to avert a Japan-like disaster at the Pilgrim, Seabrook, and Vermont Yankee reactors. Randy Kehler testified. April 6
“Countdown to Closure and a Nuclear Free Future” Timed to mark the exact day, one year before Vermont Yankee’s license will expire—March 21, 2012—this event featured Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and author of Carbon Free and Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, and James Moore, director of Vermont PIRG’s Clean Energy Program. The Green River String Band played original music for the occasion. 150 people filled the hall. A week later, 45 people gathered to brainstorm potential activities for the next year leading up to March 21, 2012. Japanese Buddhist Peace Pagoda communities in Leverett, MA, and Grafton, NY, and a film crew from a Japanese TV station particpated. March 21.
“JAPAN SOLIDARITY VIGIL” To express our solidarity with the thousands of Japanese workers and residents affected by the still worsening nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, Safe & Green organized a vigil at the gates of Vermont Yankee on March 20. 600 people came, with one week’s notice. This was an unprecedented turnout, and caught the attention of a wide range of media, from the Associated Press to the Washington bureau of a Japanese TV station. Link to slide show
Phoning Vermonters to Urge 2012 Retirement of Vermont Yankee. In February and March, Safe & Green volunteers made hundreds of phone calls to already identified sympathetic Vermonters, asking them to thank their state senators who voted last year against extending Vermont Yankee’s license and encourage them to avoid being bullied by Entergy, Vermont Yankee’s mega-corporate owner, into reversing their position.
On January 2, 2010, after many months of preparation, Safe and Green launched a 12-day, 126-mile walk from Brattleboro, VT, to the state capitol in Montpelier, VT. Organized by Safe & Green with support from the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA), the walk was an extremely successful event that included over 200 people walking for some portion of the distance, elicited expressions of support from Vermonters along the walk route and around the state, and garnered major local, statewide, and national publicity. The walk culminated with a packed and rousing press conference in the State House where walkers were welcomed by Vermont’s Senate President Pro-Tem and the Speaker of the Vermont House. Link to slide show
Petition. Besides colorful banners, flags, and signs, the walkers carried a petition addressed to the VT Legislature calling for Vermont Yankee to be closed on or before its license termination date in March of 2012. Signed by 1,656 residents of the tri-state towns within 20 miles of the reactor, a printed copy of the petition with all the names and towns was put into the State House mailbox of each legislator. http://www.petitiononline.com/petitions/NoNukes/signatures?page=36
“Leaks & Lies” Public Forum. A few days after the Step it Up to Shut it Down walk began it was reported that the Vermont Yankee reactor was leaking radioactive tritium into the soil, groundwater, and Connecticut River. Every few days, we learned that the amount of tritium turning up in test wells dug around the reactor kept growing, until the amount of tritium reached a unprecedented peak of 2.5 million pcl’s (pico-curies per liter), as compared to the EPA’s maximum “safe level” of 20,000 pcl’s). It was discovered that the leakage was coming from underground pipes that high-level Entergy officials had previously told Vermont Legislators did not exist. Safe and Green Campaign organized “Leaks & Lies” Public Forum at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro on February 21, 2010. The forum with speakers was preceded by a colorful parade through downtown Brattleboro led by a New Orleans-style jazz band. LINK to photos
Three days later, on the blizzardy morning of February 24, 2010, after many hours of debate, the Vermont Senate voted 26-to-4 to deny Vermont Yankee permission to operate beyond the expiration of its license in March of 2012. This vote, which was witnessed and roundly cheered by a delegation from Safe & Green constituted a huge and nationally precedent-setting victory: the first time a state legislature, over the strenuous objections of the reactor’s corporate owners, had moved to close a nuclear reactor at the termination of its original 40-year license.
Messages from Massachusetts. On the morning of February 24th, just prior to the Senate’s historic vote, 180 copies of a 15-page booklet published by the Safe & Green Campaign entitled “Radiation Without Representation: Voices from Your Massachusetts Neighbors” were delivered to the Vermont Legislature by the Safe & Green delegation. LINK
Celebration! After the historic victory in the VT State Senate on February 24th and the near perfect success of “Close VY” resolutions during VT Town Meetings in early March, the Safe & Green Campaign, with assistance and co-sponsorship from CAN and Nuclear Free Vermont, organized a celebratory party on Saturday evening, March 13th, at “The Stone Church” in Brattleboro, with locally grown and prepared food, live music and dancing.
“The Amazing Green Dream Machine” Street Theater. The evening before Brattleboro’s famous Strolling of the Heifers parade, Safe & Green put on a street theater performance during the town’s popular Gallery Walk. “The Amazing Green Dream Machine” Featured the inimitable “Will Nukem” (a.k.a. actor Court Dorsey), a well-rehearsed Greek Chorus, and an elaborate Rube Goldberg-type of contraption—the “Dream Machine”—that Nukem claimed could recycle Vermont Yankee’s “hot” spent fuel rods so as to produce enough energy to heat all of Brattleboro, for free! Of course, the “machine” malfunctioned…. And the crowd loved it. June 4. Link to photos
Meeting with NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko. For the first time the chairman of the federal Nuclear Regulator Commission came to the area and requested a meeting with representatives of “local citizen groups” prior to his meetings with public officials and the Vermont Yankee management. Bob Bady, our Vermont coordinator, represented Safe & Green at the table with Jaczko and a representative of each of the other Safe Power Vermont groups. July 14.
Voter Education in Burlington, VT. Safe & Green volunteers traveled to Burlington to help with a voter education canvass on Vermont Yankee issues. We also sent a delegation to a ceremony held by the Burlington Peace Center, which gave their annual activist award to Safe Power Vermont, a coalition groups which includes the Safe & Green Campaign.
Vermont Town Meeting Resolution Campaign aimed at the Vermont legislator during February and March of 2009. Dan DeWalt initiated the statewide campaign, and Safe & Green organized the southern Vermont initiatives. In 2010 and 2009 51 towns, including a dozen or so in southern Vermont, passed strong resolutions supporting the closure of Vermont Yankee. Brattleboro achieved a 71% “in favor of closing vote” on the Australian ballot; a few years before the vote was about 50/50.
2009 Regional Safe & Green Gathering. On May 31, we held our second annual Regional Gathering of Safe & Green activists from the tri-state area (the towns in VT, MA, and NH that lie within 20 miles of Vermont Yankee). Attended by about 40 people the Gathering focused on a collective brainstorming exercise to illicit creative actions and strategies for the year ahead. A number of the ideas that were put forward and discussed are among those described below.
Networking with New England “No-Nukers.” In July 2009, S&G co-coordinator Randy Kehler gave a talk about the work of Safe & Green and our coalition partners at a reunion of the Clamshell Alliance (the storied citizens alliance that opposed the Seabrook nuclear reactors during the 1970’s) at the World Fellowship Center in Conway, NH.
S&G Workshop at VT Environmental Action Conference in November ’09. S&G co-coordinators Chad Simmons, Bob Bady, and Randy Kehler led a workshop on how people can get involved in the movement to close and replace Vermont Yankee, with Bob and Randy leading a session on “Nonviolent Direct Action.”
The “Nuclear Free Jubilee” on October 25, 2008 was perhaps Safe & Green’s first large public event. A parade with over 1,000 people marched down Main Street in Brattleboro, followed by a rally and alternative energy fair on the Common.
S&G house meetings were held in Windham County, VT, and Franklin County, MA
S&G brings Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research (IEER) to Greenfield, MA, and Brattleboro, VT, to speak about his new book, CARBON-FREE AND NUCLEAR-FREE: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.
S&G began the Massachusetts Town Meeting Resolution Campaign, which resulted in 12 Franklin County towns passing resolutions rejecting Entergy’s bid to re-license the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor for 20 more years. The resolutions also called for the decommissioning of Entergy’s reactor to be followed by “immediate efforts to decontaminate the reactor site, employing current workers at full pay and utilizing the safest and most effective technologies available” and replace the electricity with conservation and renewable power sources, creating green jobs.
First Regional Safe & Green Gathering May 31
ON GOING PROJECTS
Public Hearings, Letter Writing and Outreach. Members of the S&G Campaign provided written and/or oral testimony at public hearings, legislative committee hearings, and before state regulatory boards throughout the years. We organized a letter writing campaign that generated over 150 letters to regional and local newspapers. We set up displays with educational materials and talked with people in towns throughout Vermont and Massachusetts at summer festivals and fairs.
Safe and Green Campaign Op-Eds. Almost every month since June of 2010, members of our Safe & Green coordinating committee have written op-ed articles that have been submitted to newspapers throughout Vermont and in nearby parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. All of these op-eds have been published by at least one newspaper, and in some cases by half a dozen papers. (Click here for sample op-eds and letters to the editor.)
“’72 and Good As New” Street Theater. A pea-green 1972 Pontiac LeMans the same age as Vermont Yankee was donated to Safe & Green by Greenpeace. By pushing buttons inside the car, it emits “smoke,” turns on flashing lights, pops the trunk to suddenly fly open emitting weirdly colored lights, leaks “tritium” (water), and blares 1972-era music. It is covered with nuke stickers and a cartoon-ish drawing of a collapsing cooling tower wrapped in band aids.. The 72 LeMans is often a prop in our street theatre performances and is used as bait to educate the curious. When passers-by stop to see this strange rig at festivals, street dances and in parades, Safe & Green volunteers hand out leaflets about Vermont. “’72 and Good As New” made its debut in December 2010. LINK to photo
“Selectboard Outreach Project.” LINK to sample selectboard letter Beginning in September 2010 through the present, we have been working with town officers in the evacuation zone, asking them to sign a “letter of concerns” drafted by Safe & Green or write their own version of that letter. To date, 15 towns have written letters, some after many months of discussion and citizen input. Safe & Green has sent the collection of letters, on the towns’ stationary, to Entergy, the Vermont Public Service Board, the Vermont Legislature, and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with copies to the governors, members of Congress, and nearby state legislators and regional planning commissions of VT, MA, and NH.
The “Selectboard Outreach Project” is ongoing, with at least half a dozen town selectboards still considering signing our letter. Our goals are to provide a meaningful activity for citizens and selectboards to get involved in the issue locally; to further inform, mobilize, and thus strengthen our base of citizen activists within as many towns in the “evacuation zone” as possible; and to have some impact on the legislature and regulatory bodies with respect to protecting the safety and well-being of the workers, communities, and environment most affected by the operation of VY between now and when it closes in 2012, and also after it closes, during the multi-year decommissioning and clean-up period.
As we get closer to Vermont Yankee’s shutdown date, we intend to follow-up on the proposal in the letter that “a citizens advisory board be formed, with its members appointed by local selectboards and town/city councils, so as to facilitate on-going, two-way communication….”
The towns whose selectboards have signed the letter as drafted by the Safe & Green Campaign include Putney, Westminster, and Dummerston, VT; Richmond, NH; and New Salem, Wendell, Warwick, Montague, Leverett, Colrain, and Buckland, MA.
The Marlboro, VT, selectboard approved the same letter but added an addendum.
The Winchester, NH, selectboard and Keene, NH, city council approved the spirit of the Safe & Green letter but preferred to send their own letter expressing similar concerns.
The letter is currently under consideration by the Gill, MA
Two town selectboards have declined to sign the letter, Newfane, VT, and Chesterfield, NH.
Safe and Green Campaign works closely with our “sister” anti-nuclear groups, and we often co-sponsor each others’ events. The list above includes a few selected events organized by other groups, where we note that we were co-sponsors. Many of the Safe & Green Campaign events above were co-sponsored by Citizens Awareness Network, Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, New England Coalition, Nuclear Free Vermont and other groups.
We appreciate your many years of support and are excited to work together with you in the future. TOGETHER WE WILL SHUT IT DOWN!